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Firm led by UK Tory donor fined $90m for paying bribes to land large Middle East contracts

Ayman Asfari, chief executive officer of Petrofac Ltd, in London, UK on 25 February [Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg/Getty Images]
Ayman Asfari, chief executive officer of Petrofac Ltd, in London, UK on 25 February [Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg/Getty Images]

A firm headed by Tory Party donor, Ayman Asfari, handed out—or offered—bribe money to obtain contracts in Iraq, Saudi and the UAE between 2011-2017.

The corruption charge, which was branded "systematic and grave" by Judge Deborah Taylor at Southwark Crown Court in London, included seven counts of failing to prevent bribery, or attempts of bribery, by executives at Petrofac.

Asfari co-founded Petrofac in 1991, and was its CEO for nearly 20 years before he stepped down. He has personally donated nearly £800,000 ($1.09 million) to the Tory Party, alongside his wife.

He was arrested in May 2017 and interviewed extensively by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO).  He is currently a non-executive director and the company's largest shareholder.

Shocking documents showed how two Tory prime ministers, Theresa May and David Cameron, had lobbied the Bahraini royal family on behalf of Petrofac to secure a big contract worth millions.

Another Tory minister, Liam Fox, was also said to have lobbied on behalf of the company. As of 2017, he was being investigated by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) for bribery and money laundering.

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Whitehall documents obtained by the Guardian revealed how Cameron promoted Petrofac during a two-day visit to Bahrain in January 2017, where he met the Crown Prince. He was taken back to Britain on a plane belonging to Asfari.

Senior Petrofac executive, David Lufkin, was the only one to plead guilty to 14 counts of bribery to obtain contracts to the tune of £5.5 billion ($7.5 billion) in three countries in the Middle East.

John Kinnear, the SFO's lawyer, told the court that Lufkin had been involved in organising the payment of bribes totalling £57 million ($77.6 million) under orders from two senior Petrofac executives.

Clare Montgomery, QC for Petrofac, claimed that the global firm had owned up to the corruption and was now a different company, under new management.

Europe & RussiaIraqMiddle EastNewsSaudi ArabiaUAEUK
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